Traveling For Minimalists

7:42 AM

This post should probably be called, “How to travel if you aren’t a minimalist.” Let’s be honest: traveling is easiest when you don’t bring much with you. About six years ago, my husband and I decided that we would like to live abroad. Specifically, we wanted to live in Asia. About a month ago, that dream became a reality when we got rid of almost everything we own, packed four suitcases, and boarded a plane for Taipei, Taiwan.

While I thought I did a great job condensing our entire lives into four suitcases, the reality is that there are things I should have left behind. There are very few things I didn’t bring, but wish I had. After hauling our bags across an airport, then across another airport, then in and out of taxis, then in and out of a train, then in and out of taxis again, I was ready to give up on our belongings. Just saying. (How difficult would it be, really, to just throw away everything and start fresh?)

Unfortunately for everyone, I have a few health problems that require medication, so all that stuff had to come. I also happen to have a very not-Asian body shape, so the clothes and shoes had to come. Finally, I didn’t want to traumatize my sons, so their toys had to come.

My husband’s carry-on bag held only 5 books, so I’d say his packing was just fine.

What I learned from our little adventure was that while choosing which items to ditch can be difficult, it’s an import part of the process. No traveler wants to haul their crap across the globe. More importantly, when you’re forced to haul your junk around, you quickly realize that’s what it is: junk.

Prior to leaving Colorado, I packed and repacked my bag. I was working up until the day we left, so I was exhausted mentally. We got rid of 70 bags of “stuff” in the week prior to our move, so I was physically exhausted, as well. Still, I thought I did a good job handling the packing, but the night before the move, I ended up throwing away a lot of clothes I didn’t really need to bring. (In hindsight, I wish I had packed jeans for myself. Luckily, my mother is awesome and is going to be mailing me a pair.)

When it comes to minimalist travel, everyone knows the basics: pick things you can wear again and again. Pick things you enjoy wearing. Pick things that are comfortable. Pick things you can mix and match. I would add to that and say pick clothes that are lightweight because even if it’s cool outside, walking 6 miles in a day is going to make anyone sweat. Pick clothes that aren’t going to wear out quickly because sometimes using Laundromat washing machines can damage your stuff. Pick clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or seeing again and again in your photographs because chances are, you’ll be wearing the same thing every third day.

While I’m not an expert at minimalist travel, I will say that I learned a lot this trip. For example, I brought only two paperbacks with me and neither one has been read yet. Why? I have my Kindle and everything I want to read is on there. I brought the books thinking I’d need them at some point when my Kindle died, but it’s really just been annoying to cart them around. Next time, I probably won’t bring a book with me. I’ll just bring a notebook and a pen so I can work on creating a new book for all of my wonderful readers.

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